Oncogenic mutations in intestinal adenomas regulate Bim-mediated apoptosis induced by TGF-β

Zoltán Wiener, Arja M. Band, Pauliina Kallio, Jenny Högström, Ville Hyvönen, Seppo Kaijalainen, Olli Ritvos, Caj Haglund, Olli Kruuna, Sylvie Robine, Daniel Louvard, Yinon Ben-Neriah, Kari Alitalo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In the majority of microsatellite-stable colorectal cancers (CRCs), an initiating mutation occurs in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) or β-catenin gene, activating the β-catenin/TCF pathway. The progression of resulting adenomas is associated with oncogenic activation of KRas and inactivation of the p53 and TGF-β/Smad functions. Most established CRC cell lines contain mutations in the TGF-β/Smad pathway, but little is known about the function of TGF-β in the early phases of intestinal tumorigenesis. We used mouse and human ex vivo 3D intestinal organoid cultures and in vivo mouse models to study the effect of TGF-β on the Lgr5 + intestinal stem cells and their progeny in intestinal adenomas. We found that the TGF-β-induced apoptosis in Apc-mutant organoids, including the Lgr5+ stem cells, was mediated by up-regulation of the BH3-only proapoptotic protein Bcl-2-like protein 11 (Bim). BH3-mimetic compounds recapitulated the effect of Bim not only in the adenomas but also in human CRC organoids that had lost responsiveness to TGF-β-induced apoptosis. However, wild-type intestinal crypts were markedly less sensitive to TGF-β than Apc-mutant adenomas, whereas the KRas oncogene increased resistance to TGF-β via the activation of the Erk1/2 kinase pathway, leading to Bim down-regulation. Our studies identify Bim as a critical mediator of TGF-β-induced apoptosis in intestinal adenomas and show that the common progression mutations modify Bim levels and sensitivity to TGF-β during intestinal adenoma development.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)E2229-E2236
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - 27 May 2014


  • ABT-263
  • ABT-737
  • Colon cancer
  • Crypt culture
  • Wnt pathway


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